Friday, March 11, 2016

A New England Quilt from along the Old Cambridge Pike

From the exhibit 
Behind Closed Doors: Asleep in 
New England at the Concord Museum in 2014

The star at this show in Massachusetts a few years ago was an album quilt in warm browns
and brilliant blues.

Album quilt signed by 96 friends of Rebecca Brooks (1824-1906)

 of Concord, as a gift for her marriage to Joseph Allen Smith
 on March 15, 1849.Collection of the Concord Museum. 

The picture above is from the Quilt Index, documented by the
Massachusetts project.

A link to the museum's excellent catalog page

Several bloggers took photos
and there are details at the museum's website too.

The dedication block in the center

A record of the marriage

90 x 100"
Here's a plan for a similar quilt with 10" finished
blocks. With the cut-out corners you'd need 82 blocks.

It would look awfully good in my Old Cambridge Pike
fabrics. See the free pattern below.

 I drew it in EQ, which is celeberating its 25th birthday this week!

Cutting for each 10" finished block.

A -  Cut 4 strips 3-1/2" x 6-1/2". Trim these after piecing.
B - Cut 1 square 7" and cut into 4 triangles with 2 diagonal cuts.
C - Cut 1 square 3-1/2".
But what to call it?

I've always been disappointed in the published names
for this block.

Godey's Lady's Book published it in 1860 but
they didn't give it a name.

I recently found this exchange in the Rural New Yorker magazine in 1879:

In August "Constant Reader" asked editor Faith Ripley:
"Please ask some one to give a design for piecing a remembrance quilt, one that will require only one block of each kind of print, and not so large that where you have but little of some friend's dress you will be obliged to leave it out."

October 4, 1879 
In the Correspondents' Corner:
Dear Miss Ripley:
"I will reply by sending a simple design of a remembrance quilt, which does not require a large amount of material, and is very pretty when made of different kinds of calico; using bleached muslin for the light part.... SBB? Sandy Creek NY
The name Remembrance quilt seem a general category of what we might call album or friendship quilt.

Hearth and Home magazine published the design about 1910 and called it Kentucky Cross-Roads, but it's not really a Kentucky pattern.

 The Ladies Art Company called it Snowflake in
the late 19th century. It's BlockBase  #2880 and 2881---a chubby x and a skinny one.

Farm Journal and Nancy Cabot  called it Old Italian Design or Old Italian Block.

Here's the Nancy Cabot column from the Chicago Tribune in 1936.
"Old Italian Block clearly demonstrates the love of some woman for the
richness of Italian fabrics."

Pshaw----maybe from an Italian mosaic floor.

Tolford Quilt dated 1844-45. Concord, New Hampshire.
Quilt Index.

I was thinking Old New England block might have been a better name.
But after looking at some early date-inscribed examples maybe it should be Old New Jersey Block.

Quilt dated 1844, Hunterdon County, New Jersey
from the collection of the International Quilt Study Center and Museum

Quilt dated 1843, Holcombe family, Hunterdon County,
Lambertville Historical Society, New Jersey

Quilt dated 1841, Philadelphia, from the Quilt Index and the New Jersey Quilt Project.

Or Old Central Midlands block,
as the cultural geographers sometimes refer to the places west of New York City.

Do a search for "Italian" as a quilt pattern
in the Quilt Index and you'll find quite a few examples---
none from Kentucky or Italy, however.


  1. Love your colors in Old Cambrigde Pike

  2. Love the quilt and love how they shaped it to fit around the posts.
    I will have to visit places and see if I can find any hidden quilts in the small museums, a fun summer hunt when we go on trips.


  3. Thanks for showing us this pristine example of a fascinating quilt. From the museum's website I see there are amazing Inscriptions in the center blocks. I've always loved this block but hated the name "Snowflake". A new name simply MUST be found:-)

  4. The album quilt is marvelous and thank you for the close ups of a few of those old historic fabrics. Thank you for the free pattern instructions, too! I bought two of the Old Cambridge Pike layer cakes so that I wouldn't miss out on a single fabric in the collection, wheee!

  5. Wow to all of them. Thanks for sharing.

  6. I LOVE this quilt, and I've had "blue and brown" simmering in the back of my mind for a while. This may be it!

  7. Love that Concord Museum quilt! We found in the documentation here in Maine that the Snowflake block (both with and without signatures) was a popular pattern. Interesting reading about the various other names it has been given over the years!

  8. Nice quilt! I love the pattern, and, definitely, adore the colors combination! It looks very warm and cozy.

  9. "Old Album block" or "Italian Tile" or whatever (shown in March,2016): I've always called it Autograph Cross or Album block. Love that blue & brown version! But I love Barbara's books.
    Some years ago, I made a quilt in this pattern, 19th C. reproduction prints with light solid triangles; nearly all of our neighbors signed the blocks; we presented it to a couple (down the street) who had just adopted a baby girl. Melinda mwcapozza@gmail.com